Crime, sports and 'political conflict' rule in British homes

LONDON: Even as the Indian channels are gearing up to showcase crime thrillers, ITV1's police thriller Blue Murder has edged out BBC's political drama State of Play in the UK.

The first episode of the two-part series Blue Murder notched up 8.4 million viewers and an audience share of 37 per cent even as BBC's State of Play gathered 5.2 million viewers with an audience share of 22 per cent.

A Guardian report, however, adds that Blue Murder did inherit 8.9 million viewers from Heartbeat; while State of Play inherited only 5.7 million from BBC1's Born and Bred.

Sports also ruled the roost in the ratings game. Arsenal's victory over Southampton attracted the BBC's best FA Cup Final viewing figures for three years: the audience on BBC1 peaked at 9.6 million with an average of 8.3 million viewers watching the game.

Television audiences for the Cup final have been declining with last year's Arsenal-Chelsea game hitting a record low at around 6 million viewers.

Media reports indicate that the rise in viewing figures may also influence the BBC's bid for the next FA Cup and England rights contract which is due to be submitted by the end of May.

ITV1's live coverage of the Austrian Grand Prix (Sunday, 18 May) in which Michael Schumacher survived a pit lane fire and went on to win the race, attracted a big audience. The F1: Austrian Grand Prix was watched by 3.5 million viewers and attracted a 35 per cent audience share between 12 noon and 3.05 pm.

It beat BBC1 programmes including The Politics Show, which attracted 1 million viewers, and the EastEnders omnibus, which was watched by 2.9 million.

BBC2 broadcast a correspondent investigation named War Spin (7:15 pm onwards) which was watched by 1.3 million viewers. The feature looked at the real story of Private Jessica Lynch's rescue during the Iraqi war and how it was spun by the US military.

In the 9 pm slot, Channel 4 ran a dispatches documentary, Gaza, which was watched by 900,000 viewers. Gaza features reporter Sandra Jordan who set out to cover the ongoing hostilities between the Israeli army and the Palestinians and ended up documenting the shooting of Britons Tom Hurndall and cameraman James Miller.

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